Summer ideas for Maths activities

There is a common misconception that maths is just about numbers. Yet maths is so much more than this. Pattern recognition, problem solving, structured thinking, comprehension, interpretation of quantities and critical thinking are all skills required to investigate even the simplest of mathematical questions. But most of all, maths is about questioning, trying ideas and challenging ourselves.

All children are born with the “curiosity bug” and love a challenge. In fact, children are adept to mathematical problem solving from an early age. The summer holidays provide a fantastic opportunity for learning in different contexts and through more playful channels. So this summer why not nurture your child’s maths abilities?

I have written a few tips and ideas for the latest Families Warwickshire magazine. Visit the website to find out how to have fun with your children this summer, while at the same time helping them to sharpen their skills. All activities are designed to develop core skills that will help children gain a solid background in maths.

Families Warwickshire magazine




5 a day in 7 Ways!

By Suparna Dhar Coach, Author, Trainer and founder of Life’s Canvas

When working with frazzled mums with young children, I often hear “I know we need to get our 5 a day, but how do we actually do it as a family?”

So here are my top tips on helping you and your children get your 5 a day:


Have Fun!

A great way to encourage children to eat and try more fruit and vegetables is to get them involved in washing, chopping and cooking. We often make faces, ships and rockets with our salad, fruit and cooked vegetables. Admittedly it is slightly time consuming but children really get engaged in these activities and as a result want to eat what they have created.

Spread it out

Eating fruit and vegetables throughout the day is essential, some favourites of mine are chopping half a banana in with cereal at breakfast, replacing crisps with cucumber, carrot and cherry tomatoes at lunch and serving a bowl of 2/3 steamed vegetables with dinner so that everyone can choose what to eat. I also have lots of dried fruit mixed with nuts and seeds which adds different flavours and textures which we eat as snacks.

Portion Sizes

You may just find you consume more fruit and vegetables than you think, as a general rule for adults and children one portion of fruit is the amount we can fit into the palm of our hand. So for my 3 year old it would be 5 grapes but for me it would be 10 grapes. A portion size for vegetables is 80 grams which is roughly 3 tablespoons and The Children’s Food Trust recommends half for children. So next time you are preparing fruit and vegetables think of the quantity in terms of your palm and your child’s palm.

Frozen and Tinned

With food prices soaring it is important to remember that frozen, tinned and dried fruit and vegetables can all count towards your 5 a day. Just make sure you buy tinned fruit in 100% natural juice and tinned vegetables with no added salt or sugar. Household favourites of mine are tinned mango and pineapple great for fruit kebabs and frozen peas and tinned sweetcorn to add to casseroles.

Liquid or Solid?

Not made from concentrate juice or smoothies can count as one of your 5 a day, but only one portion counts. Remember to look out for a 5 a day logo and portion indicator and make sure how much equates to one of your five a day. It is easy for children to have a smoothie with their breakfast or as part of a snack. Over the weekend I always make a smoothie with a mixture of fruit and vegetables which is tasty, quick, easy and encourages children to try new flavours such as spinach.

Eat colourful food

When preparing food think of colours which help make meals look interesting, exciting and appetizing. Encourage your children to eat red, green, blue and orange which will help them get a wide variety of vitamins. We often make animal shapes and flowers with fruit and vegetables.

10 Rainbow pasta salad pol

Healthy Treats

Serving fruit occasionally with frozen yoghurt, ice cream, melted chocolate or vegetables with a cheese sauce can all be ways to encourage children to try new fruit and vegetables. Also children often like the smooth textures of yoghurts and sauces like cauliflower and broccoli in a cheese sauce.

As mum I find using easy, simple and practical ways to encourage myself and my family to eat more fruit and vegetables works best.

suparnaresizedphoto (2)Suparna Dhar is a Coach, Author, Trainer and founder of Life’s Canvas.  She supports frazzled mums with everyday parenting such as healthy eating, setting routines and boundaries and specialises in supporting mums who have been through domestic abuse.  She has self-published Cooking Together – Step by Step guide to Yummy, Healthy and Fun Recipes.  She has two children and lives in London. 

Read Suparna’s blog and connect with her on twitter @lifescanvas7


Cereals and kitchen paper tubes

“To a child, often the box a toy came in is more appealing than the toy itself.” (*)
What wise words! It is the simple things that capture a child’s imagination and spark their creativity.
In our household it is cereal boxes and kitchen paper tubes that have been transformed into the golden weapons of the Lego Ninja.
(*) Quote by Allen Klein
ninja2fninja3f  IMG_0855f  ninja1fninja6fninja5f

Fun experiment: What does gravity do to us?

It was one of these rainy days that we always get in the summer half-term. Our bike ride had just been cancelled due to the bad weather. Disappointed we started talking about alternative plans. Unsurprisingly, one thing led to another and we ended up talking about space travel. My daughter would not like to go to Jupiter because it is made of gas, and how could we live there? My son said that he would quite like to live on the Moon, because he “would be jumping all day long and that would be fun, wouldn’t it be mum?”

It was that comment that sparked a lively discussion about gravity and what it does to us.

Earth’s gravity is the force that holds us to the planet. Without it we would fly off. Gravity depends on the mass. Because the Earth is more massive than the Moon, Earth’s gravity is bigger than the Moon’s so the pull is stronger for any object on our planet than it would be on the Moon. For instance, if you can jump 20 cm on Earth, you could jump nearly 2 m on the Moon. Wouldn’t that be fun?

But how does gravity affect us?

Here is a nice little experiment to help us investigate.


Gravity is pulling us down, as a result we are slightly shorter in the evening than in the morning when we have spent the whole night lying in the bed.

Method of exploring the question

Measure height just before we go to bed and just after we get up.


Child 1 – 9 years old

Child 2 – 6 years old

Data recording

The children designed a table to record the measurements. They had to think about what the question is what the best way is to sort out the data.


gravity experiment


Hurray!!! We have shown that indeed gravity makes us shorter. We would be probably a little bit taller if we were living on the Moon. We used a simple measuring tape, hence the measurements are not accurate, but fluctuate a couple of centimetres. However there is a clear trend, which shows that the children are slightly taller by 2 – 3 cm in the morning.